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BWW Interview: Mindy Sterling On Staying Home & Being a Groundling

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BWW Interview: Mindy Sterling On Staying Home & Being a Groundling

The Groundlings alumni and Austin Powers fan favorite Mindy Sterling will be special guesting on The Groundlings weekly online Wednesday show THE CRAZY UNCLE JOE SHOW July 29, 2020, zooming at 8p PST. This hour of improv starts with suggestions from the audience and weaves characters through time and hysterical situations. The always funny cast of CRAZY UNCLE JOE includes Stephanie Courtney, Roy Jenkins, Brian Palermo, Leonard Robinson and Christen Sussin.

I had the very delightful and informative phoner with Mindy back in April. Who knew Mindy's stay-at-home responses would still be applicable!

Thank you for taking time for this interview, Mindy!

So how are you holding up being safer at home?

Some days are good, some days are confusing. I think I wake up every morning with the idea of, 'It's gonna be a really good day.' And then in the morning I get things done, and I'm busier and I've got the energy. I think it's like around two or three is where I get lost.

I'm finding out that everyone else is kinda in the same way and then you feel like a loser because you're like, 'Why am I not doing so constructive things?' Well, I'm not a writer, so I'm not going to sit and write. I'm a terrible reader, so I'm not going to read. I binge watch Netflix like crazy. I think it's fine some of us are really motivated though. I think even my motivated friends are having a hard time because we're told not to do something. This is a big thing. This isn't like not doing sugar for a week. I think it's really hard. I haven't had a sit-down crying session yet. Because I'm also very grateful. I have a lot to be grateful for. I live in Santa Monica, and the weather is lovely. I'm healthy. So I'm ok. I really am. I think it's just the idea of not knowing, and the idea of, 'Oh, so now it's the month of April?' So when you nail that and you understand why you're not liking it, you're, 'This is ridiculous. Stop it.' It gives you a lot of anxiety, and not knowing if you'll ever get it, not knowing if your friends or family will ever get it, and you'll have to go suffer through that. So, it is the unknown that brings the fear in general, and intellectually I know about that but I'm sure you're going through the same thing, Gil.

What creative activities have you invented for yourself to do besides binge-watching?

I have a 25-year-old son who lives with me. The first week and a half were like, 'I could do this.' And then I realized, 'Oh!' All he does is stay in his room, he's on the computer all the time. One night we did drink and played Scrabble, which was fine. He was much, much better than me, but it was the idea of just being with somebody and having fun making each other laugh. So that was like probably a week and a half into it. And now he will not give me any time. I'm trying to get him to watch old movies. We watched Young Frankenstein. So you know, introduce him to things that I think he's gonna really like and appreciate. But no, he won't. He won't go take a walk with me. He won't go in the car with me and just take a drive, nothing. This is his heaven. He has nothing to do, nothing to report to, and so the only time I see him is he will pop his head out and go, 'Do you need anything?' We'll eat together. Have dinner together.

BWW Interview: Mindy Sterling On Staying Home & Being a GroundlingBut no, I don't (do anything creative). I think I did a Zoom, which was a little all these faces staring at you, it was a little daunting to me. I'm taking the time to connect with people, people that I know, or people haven't talked, even if it's just text just saying, 'How are you doing?' I'm grateful that people do that to me and I can do that to them. But nothing creative. I don't have any hobbies, Gil. Just never been a hobby girl. Usually my days are filled with cleaning, auditioning, working, Netflix, things like that. I miss my happy hours. I miss my massages. I'm really miss having massages.

Your son Max Gadson, how old was he when he saw Austin Powers?

I don't know how old he was when he saw it. I was doing it when he was little. I don't even remember sitting down and watching it with him to be honest with you I mean, he came to the set a couple of times. He sees me on sets for other things. That does not thrill him. I'm his mom. He enjoyed going to the kids' shows and stuff because of the craft services. I'm not kidding you. One day, he told me he ate three bagels. Nothing on them. Just bread. So, that was exciting for him, but he will come to The Groundlings sometimes and watch improv. Again, I don't think it's about me, it's about the people he likes. He sees me all the time. When you're a kid with a celebrity parent, they're your parents. It's not that big of a deal. He believes in me. He's very supportive. He's very congratulatory when I get something. I don't remember sitting with him and watching it. Cause he was little, he didn't go to any of the screenings, the red carpet stuff. He may have never seen it, Gil. Now I'll have to ask him. That's so funny.

You're a Groundlings alumni and teacher at their school. How did you originally connect with The Groundlings in the early 1980s?

I was taking improv somewhere else. There were some people there that were taking classes at The Groundlings or going to The Groundlings, and they said, 'You need to come there.' So I had met the individual who was running the company and running The Groundlings at that time, Tom Maxwell. I took a class. Got into the program without auditioning I loved improv from the moment I started. There was this freedom that you could do what you want, and learn the structure of it and have this in-the-moment experience. I love doing characters, and I just fell in love with the whole aspect of it. And still do! One of my favorite things to do is just improvising.

Is there a particular one thing you value that you learned from your improving in The Groundlings?

I think listening, really listening to people, to each other whether you're acting or not, and you find the way to use the 'yes, and...' way of thinking. You don't tell someone, 'No.' Don't tell someone, 'I don't like that idea.' You're finding a way to work together. I think teamwork is very valuable in anything. That's another aspect of improv in The Groundlings that they work on, and just be in the moment. I think that's really, really important.

What's the main idea you stress that your Groundlings students pick up from your classes? You might have answered this already.

BWW Interview: Mindy Sterling On Staying Home & Being a GroundlingBe in the moment. To listen. To make eye contact. You're not the only one responsible for a scene, there's your partner, that you're there to work together to use the 'yes, and...' theory. Just those, those couple of things are really, really essential in anything, and especially when you're working with no script, and you don't know what to expect, you don't know where this is going. And don't, don't try to push it. Just value where you are at the moment.

You've done movies, television, voice-overs and theatre. What are each medium's pluses for you?

Theatre, I love a live audience. I love that instant gratification of laughter or feeling that you get when you get something right.

TV, I not really crazy about sitcoms. Again, but as you do get the gratification as you get laughter. Believe it or not, I love a live audience for improv and for a play, but not for a sitcom. I don't know why, it's just a thing I have it makes me nervous. I like doing a single camera or film where the laughter will come for some reason cause it's quieter maybe, and it's not forced. It'll come after you do it or someone says, 'That's hysterical.' That I enjoy. As opposed to line, line, a joke, then you get that ha-ha-ha kind of laughter. It's just coming from a different place, and you can take your time with it. That's what I like about that kind of acting.

Voiceover, oh, my god! I love voiceover acting. It's doing all that stuff but the great thing is you can take a line and just repeat it. 'Okay, I'm going to repeat this three different times.' And finally, the way to do that so it works to what they're looking for.

In this time of crazy uncertainty, what professional plans in Mindy Sterling's future do you still want to see happening?

I would love be part of a show. To be a regular in a show that I love doing. Be a part of something that's really fun. The people are really great to work with and inspiring. I'm working with this friend of mine on a pitch and project that would be about us, and about our relationship. And I love doing films, but I would love to have something to go to more frequently, like The Goldbergs. It is so much fun for me, because when I go, I know the people. They're so delightful, so welcoming. And we just have the best time. Wendi McLendon-Covey's the best to work with as a human being, as an actress. And the other women I work with, Jennifer Irwin and Stephanie Courtney; it couldn't be better!

Thank you again, Mindy! I look forward to Zooming you in CRAZY UNCLE JOE.

For tickets to view Mindy in the latest episode of THE CRAZY UNCLE JOE SHOW Zooming on July 29th, log onto www.groundlings.com


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From This Author Gil Kaan